Monday, 17 November 2014

My Favourite Book Cover: John Clifford

As I am off to Berlin  this week it seems only fitting that this edition of "My Favourite Book Cover" should be bought to you by The Bauhaus courtesy of New York based graphic designer and author John Clifford of Think Studio.



"Though I could probably write an entire book on my favorite book covers, I'll narrow it down to one that was influential in my design education: Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1919-1923, an exhibition catalog cover designed by Herbert Bayer, who was both a Bauhaus student and teacher, in 1923.

I was a design student in the 1990s. Graphic design, or at least the design I noticed, was pretty complex then, with layers upon layers of texture, distorted images, and blurred or distressed type. It was chaotic. Messy. Sometimes illegible. I didn’t think I could ever design anything like that. I’ve always preferred being neat and clear and direct. In my uneducated mind, since all designers seemed to be doing that grunge thing, you had to do grunge if you wanted to be a designer. That, and the fact that I struggled through my first studio classes, made me unsure about this whole design thing.


Then I took a graphic design history class. I used to think of history classes as stuffy and dull. Not this one. I was floored: the simplicity and starkness of El Lissitzky; the asymmetry and white space of Jan Tschichold; the abstraction and restraint of Herbert Matter. And, the Bauhaus exhibition book cover by Herbert Bayer, with the big, bold, red and blue type filling up that square space. Nothing else to complicate it; just type. And look at how different the S in the first line is from the S in the second line!  It gave me hope: If Herbert Bayer could accomplish a lot with a little, maybe I could, too."



John Clifford is the author of Graphic Icons: Visionaries who Shaped Modern Graphic Design, and the creative director of NYC design firm Think Studio, focusing on identity, digital, publishing, and print design. He also teaches at Parsons School of Design.

Many thanks, John!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Stockholm and Portugal covers for SHOP Magazine.

Over the summer I did some armchair (or studio chair) traveling courtesy of Global Blue's SHOP Magazine. I was commissioned to illustrate the covers of their Portugal and Stockholm covers. These are two parts of Europe that are high up on my visit hit list, so it was delightful to create illustrations that captured their uniqueness. For Stockholm I focused on the spectacular island geography of the city, capturing it's archipelago of islands with geometric patterns as a nod to the city's proud design history.



For Portugal, I focused on the decorative, moorish influenced tiles that infamously adorn the country and how that influences contemporary Portuguese printed textiles.



Sunday, 26 October 2014

My Favourite Book Cover: Anna Morrison

This month's contribution comes from the talented and delightful book cover designer Anna Morrison with whom it turns out, I share a love of  Dick Bruna's book covers.

Oh, there are SO many amazing covers to chose from I really didn’t know where to begin. I’m drawn to book covers for different reasons whether they really suit the story, have a striking design or beautiful typography, it’s so difficult to pick just one.

I think Dutch graphic designer Dick Bruna’s covers are top of my list. Dick worked for his father’s publishing company (a bit of nepotism that worked out well) before coming up with Miffy, as much as I love that bunny its his book cover’s that really stand out for me. They are simple, striking and seem so fresh despite being created 50 odd years ago. He designed thousands of covers using a flat iconic style of illustration, restrained type and usually with a slight bit of humour, like a wink to the reader! I can see influence from Matisse (particularly after seeing his cuts outs at the Tate). I would have every one of his covers adorning my walls if only I had the space. I’m sorry I can’t pick just one so these are a selection of my favourites.




A more recent cover that has caught my eye is Where’d You Go Bernadette designed by Keith Haynes/Sinem Erkas. It has a similar striking graphic approach of Bruna’s work and I bought it just for the cover as I’m afraid I can’t help but judge a book by its cover.



Thank you Anna! You can see a sample of Anna's delightful colours here.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

"Dear Marie" Letters to Marie Stopes in the FT Magazine

I was commissioned for the latest FT Weekend magazine to hand letter extracts from letters to early 20th century, birth control pioneer Marie Stopes. In these letters she was both hailed as a modern saviour and accused of having a "warped and twisted mind", it was a fascinating article to be involved in!




Thursday, 16 October 2014

How to cheat at cooking: Ivan Ripley

I recently acquired a 1970's edition of "How to cheat at cooking" by Delia Smith and was delighted  by the illustrations that open each chapter. A cow, a sheep and a pig nestled into a decorative stew pot, a psychedelic gravy boat, what more could you ask for in a cookery book? The drawings are credited to Ivan Ripley who I've attempted to discover more about online to little success but I thought I'd share these '70s, culinary visual delights nonetheless.












Wednesday, 1 October 2014

My Favourite Book Cover: Theo Inglis

This month's book cover lover is Theo Inglis: graphic designer and mid century design enthusiast. Theo's blog is one of my inspiration go- to's so I was very excited to see what he'd pick and I have not been disappointed..




































"As a booklover with a design history obsession, picking a favourite book cover is a very tough ask! I'm not sure I could pick a favourite period of design or even one designer, let alone a favourite individual cover. So I'm going to dodge it slightly and pick a book for its cover, content and significance to me as a designer.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house full of books, and even luckier that a few of them were rare graphic design classics. 'Graphic Design: Visual Comparisons' by Alan Fletcher, Colin Forbes and Bob Gill was a real revelation and introduced me to some of the most significant designers of the 20th century. It also served as a brilliant introduction to ideas focused design, and the foreword features my all time favourite quote on graphic design: "Our thesis is that any one visual problem has an infinite number of solutions; that many are valid; that solutions ought to derive from subject matter; that the designer should have no preconceived graphic style."

Despite being written fifty years a go I feel this thesis is still true today, and it helps to explain why I love book cover design so much; there are always so many valid solutions, the subject matter is very rich and cover designers get to work in a variety of different styles as appropriate to each individual book.

Now on to the cover itself! The bold sans serif, white on black gives it the quintessential 1960's serious graphic design look. But the eyes, illustrated by Alan Fletcher, in 2 different colours are much more playful and naïvely done. They do however hint at a greater meaning (the importance of seeing perhaps?) and the contents of the book, which presents two contrasting images side by side on every spread. While getting the book out to write this I noticed the nice way it peeks out at the other books on the shelf. Overall I love the covers bold and simple mix of serious and playful, but I do have a bit of a thing for book covers that look back at you. (http://theoinglis.tumblr.com/post/98803900797/something-im-writing-at-the-moment-has-reminded).









































I'm a London based graphic designer, booklover and wannabe cover designer, currently working in the world of branding and packaging. Despite earlier professing to not having a favourite period of design, I have a blog on Mid-Century Modern graphics which you can find here and a website here.http://www.theoinglis.co.uk
Thank you Theo!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Mãn: a book cover

I worked with designer Peter Dyer to create this illustrated cover for "Mãn" by Kim Thúy. Published by The Clerkenwell Press, my illustration was inspired by the vibrant colours of Vietnamese vegetables and cooking ingredients.




Thursday, 4 September 2014

My Favourite Book Cover: Sian Wilson

Today the most talented and lovely book cover designer, Sian Wilson talks about her favourite book cover which is a real beauty of a 1960's Penguin Modern Classic, featuring a drawing by Duncan Grant.



"I can waste hours and hours looking for inspiration in old book covers. There seems to be so many restrictions on book cover design these days, it's great, and frustrating to see how much freedom book cover designers used to have. I've always had a massive soft spot for the art and design of The Bloomsbury Group, and this distinctive style says so much about the time in which Virginia Woolf was writing, as well as the tone of her books. But much more important than that I just think it looks absolutely gorgeous and really wish I had done it myself."

Thank you Sian, I wholeheartedly agree with all of the above.

Sian Wilson has been designing books for six years and is currently a senior designer at Little Brown Book Group. You can view some of her cover designs here.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Environmental Studies

I was recently comissioned illustrate the cover of "Environmental Studies" by Maureen Duffy. I created a decorative watercolour for this collection published by Enitharmon Press.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Menorca Map

I've created an illustrated map for invites to a wedding on the beautiful Balearic Island of Menorca. I included some key wedding locations and used warm, medierranean colours to capture the atmosphere of the island.






Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Artist's Bay Bag for LOQI

I recently collaborated with the smashing bag company LOQI to create these "Artist's Bay" reusable tote bags. Perfect for the beach or a trip to the market, this design was inspired by the sunny bays of Menorca in the Balearic Islands. Available to buy here.



Wednesday, 9 July 2014

My favourite book cover: Nico Taylor

Welcome to the next instalment of "My favourite book cover". This time I'm featuring the choice of the designer Nico Taylor who currently works at Harper Collins and is responsible for some extremely stylishly designed books being on our shelves in recent years. He has chosen a book I am very fond of "The heart is a lonely hunter" by Carson McCullers.


I always have to deal with a level of guilt and regret when thinking of this cover as one of my favourites. Having long been a fan of the book, last year I found an almost pristine copy in Portland's Powell's Book Store and foolishly decided not to take it home with me. Perhaps this personal regret will be the reason this jacket always stays with me, but I think it's more to do with the striking graphic quality it holds. For a novel that deals so subtly with the depths of humanity, it's interesting to see a cover so brash. Sadly I can't find a credit for the cover but it seems hard to believe this was created in the in the 1940's, with the dynamic script type dominating and an exaggerated drop shadow making the title seemingly jump from the cover. It could easily have been so inappropriate, but to my eyes it works marvellously. Predating the brilliant title-led jackets of the designer Paul Bacon (see original versions of Catch 22 and Portnoy's Complaint) this must have been one of the first covers to be commercially presented with the "big book" look and I think it does it fantastically.

Thank you Nico!

You can visit Nico's website here.




Thursday, 3 July 2014

Summer here kids!

I recently created two illustrations inspired by holidays and food to welcome in the long summer nights.  Enjoy.

Available as a print here

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

My favourite book cover: Nina Tara

I am always on the look out for new book cover inspiration, so I decided to ask some designers and bookish types to share their favourite covers. So we are kicking off with the most talented designer Nina Tara who has selected one by one of my all time favourite designers, Alvin Lustig.


Nina:
It is almost impossible to choose a favourite out of all his works as he has produced so many wonderful covers. I have chose this cover, Monday Night by Kate Boyle. I love the simplicity of Alvin's designs and especially this one for it's graphic feel and subtle colour palette. I think that is the magic of his work- they are timeless and don't feel over complicated with a wonderful balance about them.

I'm Nina Tara and these are a few things I like-

I love work on projects that make me want to push myself even further than the last project.
I find something that totally inspires me and I have to share it.
Someone hires me to work a project and the next time I look it;s years later and we are now friends and still working together!
I love making a mess in the studio from working on ideas and concepts for covers.
I love pottering around in my vegetable patch, helps me clear my head.
Oh... you can come find me on www.ninataradesign.com


Thank you so much Nina! 



Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Iwami Reika

I have recently stumbled across the astounding work of contemporary Japanese printmaker Iwami Reika. Born in 1927, she is one of the first women to achieve the same status as men in printmaking in Japan. She combines woodblock, handmade papers and some embossing to create prints that whilst being harmonious celebrations of the natural landscape, still have a striking austerity and an eerie atmosphere to them. You can view more of her work and find out more about her here








Tuesday, 27 May 2014

SHOP Magazine: The Gothenburg Issue

I recently had the lovely job of creating an illustration for SHOP Magazine's Spring/Summer Gothenburg issue. My brief was to create an image that celebrated natural, scandinavian beauty. Having visited Southern Sweden a couple of times, it was a joy to depict the beautiful Swedish landscape of pine forests and fresh lakes. This image is also available as a print from my shop.




Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mâché me a pet

My family's patterdale Terrier, Topsy sadly left us a few weeks ago for the big park in the sky. The lovely photographer and mâché wiz, Alma Haser presented me with a little paper mâché version of her which captures her personality so perfectly and was such a lovely gift to receive during this sad time.


Alma made her first mâché pet when her brother told her he was missing their family dog, Sugar, after moving out of home, so she decided to make him a miniature Sugar for Christmas so he would be able to have her where ever he went.



Soon orders for customised mâché pets started coming in. Alma asks the buyer to send her a photo of their dog or cat and she paints the model with the same colouring and individual details in order to capture their character. She then takes a photograph of the pet against a background colour that shows them off best.

A one off commissioned pet (between 5 and 12cm is £100). Prints of each pet will be made available in editions of 100, printed on Fine Art Archival Paper at 11" x 11" for £35 and for a model and a print it's £120. Go here for more details.

And you can view more of Alma's photography here.